The front door opened; it was the boys' foster carer, Lindsey, sporting a huge smile and reaching out for a hug and kiss. Peering around from behind her legs was a tiny little Richard, with pink cheeks and a shy smile. He was so much smaller and far more adorable than the few pictures that we'd seen had suggested. A handsome little chap, with blonde, side parted hair and big blue eyes. He dashed off through the living room into the dining room where their social worker was sitting at the huge dining table, along with Lyall, quietly playing on a tablet computer.
Lyall looked up and said "Hiya", putting down his computer game and treating us to another lovely shy smile. His deep, regional accent melted my heart the very moment I heard his voice. I put out my hand to shake Lyall's and introduce myself, in possibly the most surreal moment of my life, "It's great to meet you Lyall, I'm Daddy!". Tom was crouching down, asking little Richard about the toys he was playing with on the floor. "Dat's my poy" Richard was repeating - again an adorable regional accent but slightly (impossibly) difficult to understand. Lindsey came through from the kitchen carrying four cups of tea in her finest china (brave, I thought) and we all sat down around the dining table.
Lyall, Daddy, Dad and Richard at the foster home (by Lyall, 5)
Feeling a tad awkward under the observation of the boys' social worker - Martin, who was scribbling down notes in a shabby looking reporter's note pad, Tom asked how his day was going and what his plans were for the afternoon. Martin began to mutter a protracted reply but was quickly interrupted by Lindsey, "The boys have been to the safari park, haven't you boys? Why don't you show Dad and Daddy your safari goodies?". Out came two goody bags filled with sweets, little plastic animal figures and miniature notepads which occupied the boys for five minutes or so, allowing Tom and I a chance to look (or probably stare, really) in amazement, captivated by these handsome little boys who, very soon, will be moving in and taking over. Every so often, I would catch Lyall looking up at me, looking puzzled, trying to work me out. After a couple of minutes, Richard dashed off again, this time into the kitchen, re-appearing every twenty seconds or so back in the dining room with a shy, naughty grin on his cute little face. "What have you done?" asked Lindsey, endearingly. "I dun nuttin" replied Richard. I was enchanted.
Sat in the car again an hour later, doors closed and seat belts on, we were ready to head back to the hotel, just a short drive from the foster home. Tom and I looked at one another, a tear in our eyes, smiled peacefully at one another and then set off down the road with a quick, (deliberate this time) toot of the horn.